How to Respond to Reviewer Comments

In an earlier blog post, we talked about what reviewers can do to provide useful, high-quality reviews. We turn now to some recommendations on how you, as an author, should respond to reviewer comments.

Anatomy of a thorough and high-quality response

A high-quality response shows the editor that you have thoughtfully considered reviewer comments. It should include:

  • A point-by-point response to each reviewer comment, quoting from the review when necessary.
  • Several ACS journals require a marked-up version of your manuscript when you submit your revisions. This makes it easier for the editorial offices to see how you incorporated changes suggested be the reviewers. If the journal you’re submitting to requires a marked-up version, it will be indicated in their request for revision.
  • An explanation of how you changed parts of the manuscript. Be sure to include quotes and page numbers where new content can be found.
  • If the reviewer comments indicate that they didn’t fully understand your paper, try to determine where they got confused and why, and clarify as you revise.

Responding thoroughly and thoughtfully to reviews will help you craft a better paper.

Tips for authors responding to reviewers

When you receive a review, keep these tips in mind:

  • Reviews are not meant to be personal. If the review you receive does not seem friendly, still respond as if it is.
  • If you become angry after reading a review, take some time to cool off before responding. Your responses should be professional and scientific.
  • You should always respond to reviewer comments, even if you don’t agree with them. If there are reviewer comments that you decide not to take into account, indicate that to the editor.
  • It is best to respond to all reviewer comments. However, if there is a case in which you believe that the reviewer’s request for more data or experimentation will not further support the hypothesis, indicate why, using scientific backing.
  • If your review does not seem positive, or if your manuscript is declined, don’t get discouraged. All authors have received reviews that are less than glowing, and all have had a manuscript declined, even ACS editors. If your paper gets rejected, take the reviewer’s comments into account in your revision of the paper before you resubmit.

Check out these other ACS resources to learn more: